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- Patty in Paris - 10/31 -


drowsy enjoyment of the gentle rolling motion of the steamer, and almost immediately fell into a sound, dreamless sleep.

CHAPTER VII

WESTERN FRIENDS

The girls slept restfully all night, and were awakened in the morning by the entrance of Lisette, who was followed by the pleasant-faced and voluble French stewardess. The day was bright and sunshiny, and half a dozen times while she was dressing Patty stuck her head out of the porthole to gaze at the sparkling blue water. On these occasions Elise grasped her by the feet lest she should fall out. But as Patty's substantial frame could not possibly have squeezed through the porthole, the precaution was unnecessary.

After breakfast the girls prepared for a delightful morning on deck. The breeze had freshened considerably, so Patty put on a long, warm ulster that enveloped her from throat to feet. A long blue veil tied her trim little hat in place, and when fully equipped she looked over the piles of literature to make a selection.

"Do you know," she said to Elise, "I don't believe I shall read much; I think I shall just sit and look at the water and dream."

"All right," said her practical friend; "but take a book with you, for if you don't you're sure to want one; while if you do, you probably won't look at it."

"Elise, you're a genius. I'll take the book, and also some of this candy. I'm glad Hilda gave me this bag; it's most convenient."

The bag in question was a large, plain affair of dark green cloth, with a black ribbon drawstring. It proved to be Patty's constant companion, as it was roomy enough to hold gloves, veils, handkerchiefs, as well as pencil and paper, and anything else they might need through the day. It hung conveniently on the back of Patty's deck chair, and became as famous as the bag of the lady in "Swiss Family Robinson."

As Patty had anticipated, she did not do any reading that morning, but neither did she gaze at the ocean and dream. She discovered that life on an ocean steamer is apt to be full of incident and abounds in occupation.

No sooner had she and Elise arranged themselves in their chairs than along came two gay and laughing girls, who stopped to talk to them.

"We're going to introduce ourselves," said one of them. "I am Alicia Van Ness, and this is my little sister Doris. We're from Chicago, and we like the looks of you girls, and we want to be chums. Though, of course, it's up to you, and if you don't like our looks you've only to say so and we'll never trouble you again."

"Speak out!" chimed in the other girl, who was quite as vivacious as her sister. "We're not a bit stupid, and we can take the slightest hint. I can see you don't quite approve of us"--and she looked shrewdly at Patty, who had unconsciously assumed an air of hauteur as she watched the frank-mannered Western girls--"but really and truly we're awfully nice after you get acquainted with us."

Patty was amused, and a little ashamed that a stranger should have read her feelings so accurately, for she had felt slightly repelled at the somewhat forward manners of these would-be friends.

As if to make up for her coolness she said heartily: "I'm sure you are delightful to know, and I'm quite ready to be friends if you will allow it. I'm Patty Fairfield, and this is my chum, Elise Farrington."

"We knew your names," said Alicia Van Ness; "we asked the captain. You see, we thought you two were the nicest girls on board, but if you had thrown us down we were going to tackle the English girl next."

Though this slangy style of talk was not at all to Patty's liking, she saw no reason to reject the offered friendship because of it. The Van Ness sisters might prove to be interesting companions, in spite of their unconventional ways. So two vacant chairs were drawn up, and the four girls sat in a group, and very soon were chatting away like old friends.

"Do you know the English girl?" asked Doris; "she sits at your table."

"No," said Elise; "she's way down at the other end from us. But I like her looks, only she's so very English that I expect she's rather stiff and hard to get acquainted with."

"You can't say that about us, can you?" said Alicia, laughing; "I'm as easy as an old shoe, and Doris as an old slipper. But we hope you'll like us, because we do love to be liked. That English girl's name is Florrie Nash. Isn't that queer? She doesn't look a bit like a Florrie, does she? More like a Susan or a Hannah."

"Or more like a Catharine or Elizabeth, I think," said Patty. "But you never can tell people's names from what they look like."

"No," said Alicia; "now a stranger would say you looked like my name, and I looked like yours."

"That's true enough," said Elise, laughing; "your jolly ways are not at all like your grand-sounding name; and as for Patty here, it's a perfect shame to spoil her beautiful name of Patricia by such a nickname."

Two young men in long plaid ulsters with turned-up collars and plaid yachting caps came into view at the other end of the deck. They were walking with swinging strides in the direction of the group of girls.

"Now I'll show you," said Alicia in a low voice, "how we Chicago girls scrape acquaintance with young men."

As the young men drew nearer Alicia looked at them smilingly and said "Ahem" in a low but distinct voice. The young men looked at her and smiled, whereupon Doris purposely dropped a book she had been holding. The young men sprang to pick it up, Doris took it and thanked them, and then made a further remark as to the beauty of the weather. The young men replied affably, and then Alicia asked them to join their group and sit down for a chat.

"With pleasure," said one of the young men, glancing at Patty and Elise, "if we may be allowed."

Patty was surprised and shocked at the behaviour of these strange girls, and very decidedly expressed her opinion in her face. Without glancing at the young men, she turned on the Van Ness sisters a look of extreme disapproval, while Elise looked frightened at the whole proceeding.

The two horrified countenances were too much for the Van Ness girls, and they burst into peals of laughter.

"Oh, my children," cried, Alicia, "did you really think us so unconventional, even if we are from Chicago? These two boys are our cousins, Bob and Guy Van Ness, and they are travelling with us in charge of our parents. Stand up straight, infants, and be introduced. Miss Farrington and Miss Fairfield, may I present Mr. Robert Van Ness and Mr. Guy Porter Van Ness?"

The young men made most deferential bows, and, greatly appreciating the joke, Patty invited them to join their party, and offered them some of her confectionery.

"But it's a shame to sit here," observed Guy, "when there's lots of fun going on up on the forward deck. Don't you girls want to go up there and play shuffleboard?"

"I do," said Patty readily; "I've always wanted to play shuffleboard, though I've no idea whether it's played with a pack of cards or a tea set."

Guy laughed at this and promised to teach her the game at once.

So they all went up to the upper deck, which was uncovered, and where, in the sunlight, groups of young people were playing different games.

Both Patty and Elise delighted in outdoor sports, and the Van Ness girls were fond of anything athletic. During the games they all made the acquaintance of Florrie Nash, who, though of an extreme English type, proved less difficult to make friends with than they had feared.

They also met several young men, among whom Patty liked best a young Englishman of big-boyish, good-natured type, named Bert Chester, and a young Frenchman of musical tastes. The latter was a violinist, by the name of Pierre Pauvret. He seemed a trifle melancholy, Patty thought, but exceedingly refined and well-bred. He stood by her side as she leaned against the rail, looking at the water, and though evidently desirous to be entertaining, he seemed to be at a loss for something to say.

Patty felt sorry for the youth and tried various subjects without success in interesting him, until at last she chanced to refer to music. At this Mr. Pauvret's face lighted up and he became enthusiastic at once.

"Ah, the music!" he exclaimed; "it is my life, it is my soul! And you-- do you yourself sing? Ah, I think yes."

"I sing a little," said Patty, smiling kindly at him, "but I have not had much training, and my voice is small."

"Ah," said the Frenchman, "I have a certainty that you sing like an angel. But we shall see--we shall see. There will be a concert on board and you will sing. Is it not so?"

"I don't know," said Patty, smiling; "I will sing with pleasure if I am asked, but it may not give my audience pleasure."

"It will be heaven for them!" declared the volatile young Frenchman, clasping his hands in apparent ecstasy.

His exaggerated manner amused Patty, for she dearly loved to study new types of people, and she began to think there was a varied assortment on board.

Suddenly several people rushed wildly to the side of the boat. They were followed by others, until it seemed as if everybody was crowding to the rail. Patty followed, of course, and found herself standing by the side of Bert Chester.

"What is it?" she exclaimed.


Patty in Paris - 10/31

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